Wellness has become a catch-all for everything from cold plunges to green tea. But science-backed well-being is nothing new. Dr. William Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, developed The 6 Dimensions of Wellness in 1976. The model has evolved over time and now includes 8 Dimensions. Here’s how local Islanders in one of the world’s leading well-being destinations, Turks and Caicos, nourish the 8 Dimensions of Wellness – and how you can, too!
1: Physical Wellness
Pleasant temperatures year-round are conducive to outdoor activity. Islanders embrace walking both as a method of transportation and for exercise. Because many work jobs which require physical labor, including walking and lifting, vocational duties strengthen the muscles and heart without deliberate westernized approaches to exercise. As for nutrition, Islanders dine on protein and grains. Protein may be fresh fish or shrimp, caught daily. Grits, jonnycake, hominy, and rice are grains you may find on an Islanders table.
How you can explore physical wellness in Turks & Caicos:
The Shore Club offers tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts. Complimentary yoga or water fitness classes are offered weekly. Take a swim in one of the resort’s four pools, or opt for open-water swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, where Long Bay Beach boasts crystal clear sea water at a depth of only about 4-feet for a mile.
2: Intellectual Wellness
Primary school is available to all children in Turks and Caicos, funded by the government. For those who wish to access private school, fee-based private schools are also offered. College is also offered on the Islands, free of charge for residents (rather, funded by the government).
How you can explore intellectual wellness in Turks & Caicos:
The Turks & Caicos Islands attract more than one million visitors, annually. The majority of those visitors arrive on cruise ships and explore only Grace Bay Beach, the most notorious beach in all of the Caribbean islands. But there is more to explore and learn. The two groups of islands in the Atlantic Ocean (located Southeast of the Bahamas, north of Haiti, east of Cuba, and about 600-miles from Miami) have a complicated history. Control has passed from Spain to France to Great Britain during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In 1973, it became a British overseas territory and remains so today. Most Islanders live on Providenciales in the Caicos Islands, which is where you will fly into from the United States.
Broaden your education of the Turks and Caicos Islands by veering 10-minutes southeast from the tourist crowds of Grace Bay Beach and hanging your oversized beach hat at The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach.
3: Emotional Wellness
The beach has calming vibes. The sound of the ocean waves soothes the soul. Islanders honor that “we met this here,” according to Kerry Henderickson, Executive Assistant at The Shore Club. That means that Islanders feel connected with all vegetation, including the brush, which acts as a protective barrier to people and property. The brush remains untouched, but the beach takes care of the locals and the locals take care of the beach.
How you can explore emotional wellness in Turks & Caicos:
A massage can temporarily calm anxiety and stress. The Palms Hotel offers thirteen massage treatment rooms, making it among the largest spas in the 7-mile stretch of Grace Bay Beach. 60 or 90-minute massage services are available.
4: Spiritual Wellness
Christian faith is the predominant religion of Turks & Caicos Islanders. Also prevalent are Anglican and Catholic faiths. Church services are often attended by Islanders on Saturday or Sunday, as well as small group worship on a weeknight.
How you can explore spiritual wellness in Turks & Caicos:
Spiritual wellness can be nurtured in nature. Appreciating the beauty of the white sands, conch shells, azul sea water, and breathtaking sunsets can satisfy a longing for something bigger and more radiant than yourself. At The Shore Club, you can practice yoga in the serene setting of the resort’s yoga pavilion.
5: Financial Wellness
Financial wellness can be challenging for Turks and Caicos Islanders. Many hospitality employers, including The Shore Club, offer financial planning education to all employees. A step in the right direction was the government raising the minimum wage on April 1, 2023, from $6.25 per hour to $8.00 per hour.
How can you explore financial wellness in Turks & Caicos:
Excursions are one of the ways that vacations can become quite expensive, on a whim. Be sure you plan for the vacation and save the money that you will need to spend at the resort you visit (don’t forget to plan for gratuities. 15% gratuity will be added to your services in Turks and Caicos, but the Islanders work hard to earn “above and beyond” tips).
The Shore Club offers guests complimentary stand up paddle boards, kayaks, snorkels, and catamarans. Your free non-motorized water sports entertainment ticks a checkmark in both physical and financial wellness.
6: Occupational Wellness
Over half of Turks and Caicos Islanders work in tourism. It is not uncommon for Islanders to work two jobs. The work week is 6 days per week, not five as is customary in the United States. According to Kerry Henderickson, Executive Assistant at The Shore Club, joy is found by working together as a team. Islanders also find intrinsic reward in serving others.
Arlianna Musgrove, Front Office Manager at The Palms, noted that The Palms staff find the set-up duties to be therapeutic. When they are setting up the beach for the day with umbrellas, towels, and lounge chairs, they are also in a tranquil state, appreciating the natural beauty of their home.
How can you explore occupational wellness in Turks & Caicos:
The allure of the ocean beckons you to turn off your devices and be present. This year’s annual American Express survey found that 81% of respondents look to unplug on vacation. You can serve your occupational wellness by disconnecting while on the islands.
7: Social Wellness
Turks and Caicos, population 40,000, is mostly inhabited by descendents of African slaves who were brought in to work salt pans or cotton fields. There is a tight family unit, and it is common for multi-generational families to live on the same property, together. Arlianna Musgrove, Front Office Manager at The Palms, told me that there’s an expression “Who’s Ma (of) Your Pa?” By learning a father’s mother’s maiden name, Islanders can discover if they are related. Ms. Musgrove said on the rare occasion that the family travels, the whole extended family (of 30) will go together. I mentioned that in the United States, we often speak of dysfunctional families. I was curious, with the tight knit social culture of families in Turks and Caicos, if discord persists. Ms. Musgrove laughed. “Oh no,” she said, “How can you hold a grudge against someone you see every day? We can be mad, but we get over it.”
How you can explore social wellness in Turks & Caicos:
The Shore Club offers the only Estate Villas within all of Turks and Caicos that are embedded within a resort setting. All resort amenities are accessible to villa guests. The Shore Club offers five 8,800 square foot villas, each with six private bedrooms and bathrooms, chef’s kitchen, private butler, ample entertaining area, expansive balconies, a private pool and hot tub, and dry sauna. The expansive balcony offers the best views of Long Bay Beach, and a private access walkway leads straight to the beach.
8: Environmental Wellness
Turks and Caicos is home to the second largest coral reef system in the world. For that reason, it is home to some of the world’s top dive sites. Coral reefs are home for millions of species of marine life. They support healthy ocean food and protect the coastline from storms and erosion. Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, only needing sunlight to survive (it’s how they get their oxygen).
How you can explore environmental wellness in Turks & Caicos:
At The Shore Club, the barrier reef system is untouched. It protects the property. The spa at The Shore Club features treatment rooms on stilts so that the barrier reefs may be unharmed by the construction of this resort amenity. While in Turks and Caicos, rent a complimentary snorkel from The Shore Club to explore the marine life beneath the ocean’s surface. Don’t disrupt the ecosystem, but bring your waterproof iPhone case to snap a picture of a fish snacking on a coral reef. It will serve as a reminder that you’re just a part of a wide world of wellness, more vast than the mind can understand; interconnected and multidimensional – but for now, until Dr. Hettler’s Wellness Model expands again, we’ll go with 8.
The Shore Club is located at 13 Sea Breeze Close, Long Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, The British West Indies. Room rates start at $616 per night.
The Palms is located at 16 Princess Drive Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, The British West Indies. Room rates start at $700 per night.
Cover Photo Brook Benten.
Brook Benten, M.Ed., is an exercise physiologist in Austin, TX. She is the author of Prevention’s Lift Light, Get Lean. She has recorded hundreds of workout videos and presented at top fitness conventions. Brook’s next book, Sweat Like a Mother, is expected to release later this year.